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Abstract

The postmining rehabilitation of coastal sand dunes north of Richards Bay (28°43′S, 32°12′E), South Africa, is resulting in the development of a series of known-aged stands of vegetation dominated by Acacia karroo (sweet thorn). Other broad-leaved species are establishing themselves in rehabilitating areas more than 12 years of age. Soils from rehabilitating stands 3–5, 9–12, 13–15, and 16–18 years of age, from two disturbed, unmined stands 30 and 58 years of age, and from a mature unmined stand were examined to assess age-related trends in selected soil properties. Individually, these stands represent a series of different developmental stages of a coastal dune successional sere. Soil organic material, percentage organic carbon and concentrations of sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and nitrogen increased with an increase in habitat regeneration age. Concentrations of most of these elements were lower than those recorded on the 58-year-old unmined and mature unmined stands. Multivariate analyses suggest, however, that the similarity of these values for rehabilitating stands to those for the unmined stands increased with an increase in regeneration age. The growth response of Raphanus sativus (radish) plants, based on mass attained under experimental growing conditions in soil collected from these stands, suggests an increase in soil fertility with an increase in regeneration age.